ESUHSD hosts Very Special Prom and Jogathon

By Katie Tran & Nghi Nguyen


ESUHSD’s (East Side Union High School District) speech therapists host annual Jogathon on April 19 at Overfelt High School and Very Special Prom on Fri., May 10 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.

The Jogathon is an adaptive PE (physical education) event, one of the Special Education program’s major fundraisers where family and friends of students pledge a donation for every lap they are able to run.

Prom is an event that can be seen as an exciting event to many high school students. It can also be seen as the highlight of their high school careers.

“The event is (about) giving our students with disabilities the same opportunities that their regular peers experience as a high school student, including social events such as prom,” says Special Ed teacher Maria Casiano.

Through Jogathon, students feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because they are able to show their families all their hard work and determination in running laps.

“With perseverance and hard work, you can do anything regardless of whether you have a disability or not,” says Special Ed teacher Ethyl Santos.

The Very Special Prom had the theme of Hollywood Stars. It consisted of dancing and eating in fine dining setting.

“The best part about this event is that our students dress up, and they can have a good time with their peers,” states Special Ed teacher Rowena Vocal.

About 100 teachers and staff from Piedmont Hills, Overfelt, Silver Creek and James Lick were in attendance for Jogathon. Other schools that participated in previous years include Santa Teresa, Yerba Buena and Evergreen, although they didn’t attend this year.

“With this event, students increase their gross motor skills, as well as social skills as they are able to meet other students from the other schools which have the specialized program,” says Mrs. Vocal.

A total of of about two-hundred students and staff came to the Very Special Prom from different schools that have specialized programs such as Silver Creek, Overfelt, James Lick, Yerba Buena, Santa Teresa, and Evergreen high school.

“We are hoping that this social event will continue year after year,” says Mrs. Casiano.

Shirts for the Jogathon event are donated by our very own Insane Ink to runners, which they’ve been doing for the past few years.

The importance of the Very Special Prom and Jogathon can be seen from the students that attended.

“I really loved going to these events, because I could be with my friends,” states Freshman Nevaeh Ortiz.



Fun events to go to in the summer

By Trisha Trinh


Do you feel like you’re not going to have anything to do over the summer? There are a couple events during the break to keep you feeling rejuvenated and great. You will be having the time of your life and feel as if you aren’t wasting your summer away cooped up in your room.

Fanime- Are you into Japanese animation and culture? This event has it all with guest speakers at panels, merchandise, artwork and cosplayers. The event was created by the fans themselves to bring a community closer with their passion and love for anime. It’s filled with fantastic activities to do and being able to interact with others that share the same interests with you. Fanime is on May 24-27, a way to fill your event with Japanese culture.

Corgi-Con- An event that happens every year at the beach in San Francisco where you can hang out with corgis of all kinds. The event is on June 15 and starts at 10 a.m. It is a great event for all dog lovers and a reason to get out the house. There will be competitions such as costume contests or even corgi races. A perfect way to bond of over loveable and friendly dogs.

San Diego Comic-Con- This convention is made for all comic book lovers and those who are into the pop culture. With special guests from movies like the “Avengers” or Star Wars” to ask burning questions you might have. The event includes artists from around the world to show off their expertise and artwork created for the fans. Cosplayers from all the popular shows and movies gathered at one place to show off their love and passion of their fandom. It is a spectacular event for all ages to experience and go to. Comic-Con starts on July 17-21 and it happens every year, so don’t miss it.

Outside Lands- A perfect way to end your summer with a bang by hearing your favorite music artists at the largest music festivals located in the heart of San Francisco. With headliners like “Childish Gambino” or “Flume”, this music festival will rock your heart out. Aside from the music, you can experience the taste of the Bay Area with a wide variety of food. Not to mention, a huge milk tea party for those boba lovers. If you are into music and food, this festival might be for you.

These events will keep you company in the summer if you cannot seem to find anything to do and to create memorable things along the way.


Correlation between mental health, social media

By Christine Do

Correlation between mental health, social media


Social media has unknowingly taken over our modern day society, manipulating our everyday lives. With phones one reach away and most information accessible with a Google search, it’s easier to fall into the world of the internet than to live in the present. Has social media been affecting our mental health? If so, how?

According to an official from Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches Inc., a study in 2017 of over half a million eighth through twelfth graders found that their levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33 percent between 2010 and 2015. In this same period, the rate of suicide for girls in this age range increased by 65 percent. These increased percentages “correlate with smartphone adoption during that period, even when matched year by year,” according to the study’s lead author, San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge. Clearly, there is a relationship between smartphone usage and the declining mental health of teens.

Perhaps it all started as a way to stay connected to others through innocent acts like Snapchatting or liking a post on Instagram. However, in an attempt to communicate with those far away from us, we distance ourselves from those next to us. Most of us have experienced the common awkward situation of not knowing what to say in a conversation. Instead of trying to talk it out, we instinctively take out our phones as a safety net to avoid the awkwardness of it in general.

“Sometimes when I’m in a big group and I’m not comfortable or I don’t really know the people, I just go on my phone to pass the time,” says sophomore Vanessa Ng.

Because of this, people are not able to build their social skills, making them more susceptible to social anxiety. People have less experience with real social situations and are left with a feeling of isolation. The connections made through social media lack the deep empathy that is present in a face-to-face conversation. Digital emoticons can never fully express an emotion or feeling. Ironically, we are connected, yet alone.

As stated by that same study, “If we’re always playing catch-up to endless online updates, we’re prioritizing social interactions that aren’t as emotionally rewarding and can actually make us feel more isolated.”

With the constant scrolling through pictures and life updates from people you barely know, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of comparing yourself to someone else. Seeing someone out traveling or living their best life could spark a feeling of envy.

“I think it’s inevitable to compare ourselves to social media because we all have our insecurities,” says junior Sophia Pham.

Comparing ourselves to others lowers our self-esteem, and soon enough, some will depend on the number of likes and comments on a post to determine their self-worth.

Along with this, people tend to grab their phones when they’re bored. Such a small instinct can lead to long-term consequences, however. This makes it harder for the brain to focus on a task for a long amount of time, such as writing as essay or finishing our homework. Our attention-span becomes shorter, possibly affecting our academic performance as well.

We’ve all stayed up late to binge our favorite TV show, but sleep deprivation messes with our body clock. According to the Healthline Editorial Team and Rachel Nall, it is known that teenagers need around eight hours of sleep each night, but with homework, extracurricular activities and distractions from our phones, we seldom meet this requirement.

In the end, social media is not necessarily a direct cause of declining mental health, but there is a definite correlation. Despite its possible negative effects, it does vary for each person and impacts everyone in a different way.
“I don’t think social media itself is a bad thing. I think it’s the individual. It’s up to them what they use social media for because it’s just a platform,” says junior Stacy Truong.

In this technological age, it’s best to be mindful of the information we’re feeding our brains. So next time you find yourself scrolling mindlessly on your phone, take a minute to think of what else you could be doing and simply be present.

Is caffeine actually good for you?

By Sophia Xiao


Forget the pledge of allegiance, consuming caffeine has become the quintessential daily American ritual, with about 90 percent of Americans consuming caffeine in one form or another every single day, according to a study by John Hopkins.

“More than half of all American adults consume more than 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine every day, making it by far America’s most popular drug,” writes Villanova University on their website.

Millions of Americans use caffeine to stay awake, boost productivity and alleviate fatigue. Caffeine acts on the nervous system. Over the course of the day, adenosine will build up in the brain, causing us to become sleepy. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine on our brain.

“I drink it whenever I feel tired, which is every day, whatever time is suitable. So if I’m tired in the morning, I’ll drink coffee in the morning, if I feel tired at 3am, I’ll drink coffee at 3am. There’s not really a (time) cutoff for me,” explains avid coffee drinker Kevin Su. “Sometimes I start shaking a lot, and if I drink too much coffee my face gets really red, so it’s kind of like a caffeine overdose for me. Sometimes it gets harder to concentrate.”

However, caffeine consumption has gained a bad reputation for being addictive and allegedly causing a host of health problems.

“Whenever you’re addicted to anything, it’s probably not a good thing. Especially for the people who like coffee, they say they can’t survive in the morning without coffee because without the drug, they go through withdrawal symptoms like headaches. They feel miserable until they have their coffee,” explains Physiology teacher David Vasquez.

For decades, doctors warned that caffeine could cause heart disease, stunt growth and damage the digestive tract. However, new studies have shown that consuming up to 400 mg, or about 32-oz of coffee, is safe for most healthy adults, according to Mayo Clinic. Beyond its addictive qualities, coffee in moderation could actually be good for you. Coffee has been shown to lower risks of Type 2 diabetes and stroke. It is high in antioxidants, reducing inflammation and slow down processes that drive aging.

However, the story is very different for adolescents. According to the American Pediatric Assoc., adolescents ages 12 to 18 should cap daily caffeine intake at 100 mg, because kids and adolescents can be more sensitive to caffeine’s undesirable side effects, such as anxiety, diarrhea and dehydration. Even within suggested doses, caffeine use in the afternoon and evening can have negative impacts on sleep quality and quantity.

Children and teens are much better off relying on proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep to stay awake in class, rather than caffeine.



By Henry Zheng

Exercise is known to have many benefits such as better physique, cardiovascular health and a longer life. However, to a few dedicated athletes, there are other numerous non-physical benefits that motivate them.

Perhaps the most obvious and well known benefit of exercise is mental health. There is no doubt that hard exercise helps one develop their mental toughness.

“When you’re running like 15 miles or biking 100 miles, it makes everything in life seem not as big,” says photography teacher and Iron Man athlete Ian Tippets, who has competed in multiple marathons and triathlons.

Along with improving mental toughness, exercise can also relieve a lot of pent-up stress from our everyday lives and motivate us to be productive as we push temporary problems out of the way.

“I’ve found that exercising has made my mind clearer. An hour at the gym or a quick running session never fails to help take my mind off of whatever is troubling me and gives me motivation to keep pushing on at the same time,” explains senior Thomas Chan.

Improving mental toughness also helps one develop better habits to help them stay more organized and get more out of their day, which is especially important for students who want to be on their A-game.

“I believe that exercise makes me more disciplined. I have to stick to a schedule and manage my time properly to juggle school, work and exercise,” says PHHS alumni Iris Wu, who is now on the triathlon team at UCSB.

If these benefits don’t interest the average person enough, exercise can also make you feel “high”. For those who love those dopamine or endorphin rushes, exercise can also do the same.

An article on describes how runners can get “runner’s high” after or during running many miles, as the brain releases endorphins to cope with the body’s pain. This high has the ability to temporarily numb your pain and in fact turn you into a productive beast.

Along with getting you high, exercising also has the potential to greatly increase your overall mood, which can trickle down to other aspects of your life. An article written by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states how the center actually promotes exercise as a way to treat clinical depression and reduce anxiety. Not only do people feel happier overall, but these same people are also less likely to get sick because less stress constitutes a stronger immune system.

All these benefits are great, but how does one start exercising? Many struggle to even go outside, let alone run or bike a few miles. As intimidating as exercising seems, nothing is impossible, and with a little bit of effort and patience even just a five-minute walk could work wonders if done consistently.

“Consistency is key, (and) it’s okay to start small and build up slowly, but make sure you stick with it,” explains Iris.

Taking things slow and breaking down workouts slowly are key tips that will help anybody get on the right track. There will be days where you just want to quit everything entirely and remain a couch potato the rest of your life. When those days come along, just remember the importance of what you’re doing and the whole gravity that exercising has on your life.

“Many things will change in your life, but your health will (always) follow you wherever you go. Taking care of your body, both physically and mentally, should always be your first priority,” urges Iris.

From strengthening one’s mind to greatly improving one’s daily routine, work ethic and overall happiness, exercise has the ability to completely flip your life around and should be incorporated into your daily routine.

Benefit Concert and District Festival hosted by the music department

By: Rose Lu and Victor Xie

On Feb. 27, both String and Symphony Orchestra participated in the annual District Festival, an event where all orchestra groups in ESUHSD (East Side Union High School District) perform for two adjudicators to be critiqued. Shortly after, on March 1, the Music Department hosted Rise from the Ashes, a benefit show dedicated to Paradise High School, which took place in the L-Building.

The orchestra performed at the District Festival because it was a great performance opportunity.

“The district didn’t have a festival for a number of years due to budget cuts. It’s good to have the festival in between so we can perform some music and go on to new music,” explained Orchestra Director Emily Ray.

All proceeds from the benefit show will be going directly to Paradise High School. Paradise High School lost many pieces of equipment, sheet music and instruments in the recent fires.

“The Music Dept.’s goals in hosting this concert include helping Paradise High replenish some of the musical resources they lost in the fire. We just want to help them recover,” said Choir Council President Lilly Liu.

This year, the District Festival was held in the auditorium at Evergreen Valley High School. The two adjudicators who commented on the performances both have a previous relationship with the Lynbrook High School music program, one of the best music programs in California.

“I think it’s good to have someone comment on your performance because being on stage and being in the audience are two very different experiences,” explained junior Nicole Chen.

The Music Dept. had been anticipating the performance at the benefit show.

“Concerts are always fun because we finally get to perform and share the pieces we’ve been practicing for so long. This concert is special because it’s directly benefiting Paradise High School,” shared tuba player Charles Ding.

Unlike the upcoming CMEA (California Music Education Association) festival, the adjudicators did not give scores, but only commented on how each group could improve on their performed pieces.
“(The festival) got us used to performing on a stage which is a lot different than the G-Building,” said String Orchestra Concertmaster Kaitlyn Chou.

Rise from the Ashes was able to raise over $2700 for Paradise High School’s music program. Both Instrumental and Choir Council hope this benefit concert will become a recurring event.

“We did a benefit concert last year and it was successful, so we decided to do another one, since we believe that we will have a positive impact on these families from the Southern California wildfires,” commented Concession Manager Huy Tran.
Both performances have helped all the music groups grow as musicians and practice for their upcoming concert in May.

Red Cross Spring blood drive

Nghi Nguyen


Red Cross held their biannual blood drive of the year in the library on Fri., March 8. Red Cross collaborated with Vitalant, a nonprofit transfusion medicine organization that provides blood donation opportunities.

“The purpose of this event is to collect as many units of blood as we can in our school, so we can send the blood to others who need blood transfusions,” says Vice President Shannon Liu.

The blood collected from the event goes to the Centers of the Pacific, a nonprofit community based blood center that collects the donations and provides them across the local community.

“Red Cross hopes to have 100 donors. Each pint of blood will be able to save three lives. If we have 100 donors, Red Cross will be able to save 300 lives,” explains Treasurer Isaac Wen.

In the past blood drive that was held in October, Red Cross was able to collect 57 units of blood. Not only would these units of blood be saving about lives, it shows the potential the youth has.

“I think the best part of the blood drive is just being part of the process. Seeing the number of people willing to give some of their time in order to save lives makes me smile. It’s amazing how we are all able to work together to save lives,” states Co-Secretary Lily Do.

The Red Cross Spring Blood Drive followed Red Cross’s main mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of human disaster. This event allowed the club to enact change and aid public health.

Take a Teacher to Lunch

by Devonna Dang


CSF will hold its annual Take a Teacher to Lunch at the PHHS Library this Wednesday to recognize all of the talented and dedicated staff on campus. All teachers and staff are invited to this event.

“We want as many teachers to come, because they have all done amazing things for the students at school, so we usually hand-deliver invitations to teachers and staff,” says Co-Publicist Lauren Lin.

CSF provides the main course. This year’s main course is from Jade China and includes Chow Mein, salad and Egg rolls.

The students who volunteer to participate in the event get split up into groups. Each group has a theme and is responsible for providing any decorations, appetizers and desserts. They decorate the meal based from a theme of their own choice.

“These themes are entirely up to them and often people have fun themes like Hawaiian, Disney, etc. The main goal of this event is both to thank our teachers and get to know them outside of a formal environment,” said Tech Chair Jerry Xu.

This tradition has become the heart of CSF, as the club revolves around academics and education.

“My favorite thing about Take a Teacher to Lunch is the fact that this event is a chance to say thank you to your teachers and really get a chance to know your teachers outside of school,” said Co-Secretary Ritika Randhawa.

“I probably don’t say it enough but I do appreciate everything my teachers do. They have all pushed me to be better and didn’t focus on getting only good grades but actually learning and retaining valuable information,” said Lauren.


By Sarah.Shafaeen

The PHHS music students left for their Disneyland trip last Friday. The trip was meticulously planned and the music students have been working hard to be ready for their performances.

“The Disneyland trip is usually planned by Mr. Ellis and Mrs. Ray. They organize the itinerary and contact the festival organizers. In instrumental council, we also help with the process by filling out paperwork and letting that music students know what’s happening regarding payments and fundraisers,” informs senior Symphony Orchestra member Asher Twu.

Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble performed “Ave Maria” composed by Franz Schubert, “Rumble on the High Plains” composed by Michael Sweeney, “Festivo” composed by Vaclav Nelhybel, the third movement from George Bizet’s Symphony, “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia” composed by Aram Khachaturian and “Danse Espagnole” composed by Tchaikovsky.

The event is something the music students really look forward to.

“I’m excited to go on this trip because it only happens every two years and it’ll be a fun experience that I’ll be able to share with my friends in my last year of highschool. Also, I’m looking forward to eating dole whip again,” states senior Varsity choir member Samuel Dai.

The choir classes will perform the traditional Indonesian song “Hela Rotan,” “Good Night Dear Heart” composed by Dan Forrest and “Canticum Novum” composed by Ivo Antognini.

Many students were excited about all the activities and fun events that have been planned.

“We will leave on Thursday for Disneyland and arrive near evening. The performance itself is on Saturday, so we’re going to Disneyland on Friday. We’re also planning to watch the Aladdin musical and we’re visiting a university for an organized lunch one day. On Saturday, after the performance, there is an awards ceremony. We arrive back in San Jose on Sunday in the afternoon,” discloses Asher.

Others were eager to visit Disneyland itself because the park is where they will make long lasting memories.

“I don’t go to Disneyland often so I’m just looking forward to exploring the park with my friends and then performing,” comments senior Wind Ensemble member Neha Kaza.

Many of the students were ready to see all of the hard work and effort put in throughout the year pay off through the performance.

“I’m sure all music students are excited and nervous for the music festival, including myself. The Disneyland trip itself will be fun, but we’ve put in a lot of practice for the performance, so we’re hoping to be able to pull off all the pieces we’re going to be performing. While Disneyland is sort of a reward for performing, the performance itself is exciting. There are four rankings: superior, excellent, good, and needs improvement. We always aim for the superior, and first place if we are competing with other schools,” states Asher.

The Treblemakers, performed “Voice Dance” composed by Greg Jasperse, “Bumblebee” composed by Anders Eroth and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” composed by Manning Sherwin.